Former social worker and fraudster who secured top roles with fake CV must repay almost £100,000

A convicted fraudster whose “staggering lies” about his qualifications helped him secure senior NHS roles must pay back nearly £100,000, the Supreme Court has ruled, following a years-long legal battle over his earnings.

In a ruling on Thursday, justices in the UK’s highest court overturned an earlier Court of Appeal ruling that a confiscation order against Jon Andrewes was “disproportionate”.

Andrewes’ false claims saw him land the £75,000-a-year position of chief executive officer at St Margaret’s Hospice, a charity in Taunton, Somerset, in 2004, where he worked until March 2015.

He also used fake details about his academic and employment history when successfully applying to become a non-executive director at Torbay NHS Trust, Devon, in 2007 and chairman of the Royal Cornwall NHS Hospital Trust in 2015.

In early 2017, Andrewes (pictured) pleaded guilty to a charge of obtaining “a pecuniary advantage by deception” in relation to the hospice, and two counts of fraud over his remunerated appointments at the NHS trusts.

Then aged 63, he was handed a two-year prison sentence at Exeter Crown Court by Judge Geoffrey Mercer QC, who told him that for more than 10 years his “outwardly prestigious life” was based on “a series of staggering lies”.

A different judge later ruled that his criminal conduct brought him a total benefit of £643,602.91 but the available, and therefore recoverable, amount was ordered to be £96,737.24.

Andrewes successfully appealed against the confiscation order in 2020, with judges ruling he had given “full value” for his earnings.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) then brought its own appeal to the Supreme Court, with justices considering in what circumstances would it be disproportionate to strip earnings from a fraudster under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

In their ruling, Supreme Court justices described how Andrewes, who worked as a social worker during part of his career, lied about having degrees from Bristol University, an MBA from Edinburgh University and that he was studying for a PhD at Plymouth University.

He also “inflated” and gave “false” information on his work experience, claiming to have held senior management roles and once been seconded to the Home Office.

In 2006, he told staff at the hospice he had obtained his PhD and insisted on being called Dr Jon Andrewes, with the title being used on staff structure diagrams and on his email footers.

In their judgment, Lord Hodge and Lord Burrows, who considered the case with Lord Kitchin, Lord Hamblen and Lord Stephens, noted that Andrewes had “performed valuable services for the hospice and the two trusts in return for the net earnings” but also that “a person of honesty and integrity” had been sought for his roles.

The justices said Andrewes would not have landed the roles if the truth about his qualifications was known, adding: “In that sense, the fraudster would be profiting from his crime if no confiscation order were made.”

The five justices agreed that in “CV fraud cases” where a fraudster has “given full value for the earnings received” it would normally be “disproportionate” to confiscate all net earnings.

They added: “But it will be proportionate to confiscate the difference between the higher earnings made as a result of the CV fraud and the lower earnings that the defendant would have made had he or she not committed the CV fraud.

“In many situations of CV fraud, it will be appropriate, as a pragmatic approximation of that profit, simply to base it on the percentage difference between the fraudster’s initial salary in the new job obtained by fraud and the fraudster’s salary in his or her prior job.”

This was a “middle way” approach between the “take all” arguments by the CPS and “take nothing” position of Andrewes’ lawyers, the justices said.

CPS lawyers argued there was a “legal bar” and “fit and proper person” requirements that applied to Andrewes’ roles at the two trusts that meant confiscation of his full earnings was not disproportionate but the justices disagreed.

They said that their middle-way approach would not be appropriate where the performance of services constituted a criminal offence but this was not the case in relation to Andrewes’ trust roles.

The confiscation order originally made was restored by the justices.

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